Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

Local Teen Awarded Prestigious USTA Foundation Scholarship

Sydney Hamilton | August 07, 2023

Russell Lokko, a high school tennis standout who played for St. Thomas Aquinas right here in our district, has been awarded the Donald Lawson Tisdel College Scholarship Award in the amount of $40,000 from the USTA Foundation! 


The Donald Lawson Tisdel Scholarship is named for Don Tisdel, a US Air Force vet and prolific tennis player who was responsible for giving so much back to the USTA and tennis communities across the country–so much so he was named “Person of the Year” by Tennis Industry Magazine in December 2016. He credited tennis and a strong education with his success in life, and would be so proud that Russell is the recipient of his eponymous scholarship.


Russell will be attending the University of Louisville in the fall, and will be a part of the school’s Division I tennis team.

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I spoke with Russell about his tennis background, the scholarship, and his college plans. Check it out below!


What is your tennis background? Have you won any school awards for tennis?


My parents introduced me to tennis when I was four years old. We practiced and played for fun as a family. I started competing in lower-level tournaments when I was eight years old and also competed on some JTT teams. When I turned 12 , I realized I loved tennis more than all the other sports I played, so I decided to practice more and started playing in higher-level USTA tournaments.


Some of my high school awards include: 

  • Four varsity letter awards 
  • Three-time MVP Award, St. Thomas Aquinas High School Boys Tennis Team, 2021-2023
  • Three-time Kansas 5A State Boys Tennis Singles Champion, 2021-2023
  • Three-time EKL Boys Tennis Singles Champion, 2021-2023
  • Two-time Athlete of the Week


How did you learn about the scholarship? 


I learned about it through the USTA Excellence program. (read more about the USTA Excellence program here)


What was the application process like?


The process was pretty simple. I wrote an essay on how my participation in the USTA Foundation and other organized tennis and education programs has influenced my life. I provided two reference letters: one from my teacher and another from my tennis coach. I also provided my transcript and ACT scores to support my application.


What was your reaction upon learning you would receive the scholarship?


I was excited and very appreciative.


What are you looking forward to most about attending college?


I'm looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things. I'm also looking forward to meeting my tennis teammates, training with them, and competing with them, as well as taking classes that will benefit my future career.


Please join us in congratulating Russell on his well-earned scholarship and wishing him the best of luck in his collegiate journey!



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